Lawn Care Contracts: 4 Options for Making a Client Agreement
A lawn care contract is a document that you can use to detail the specifics of your relationship with a client. At a minimum, it should include a description of the service you will provide, the total price the client must pay, payment terms, and a signature or confirmation showing the client agrees to the information in the contract.
When you start a business, one thing you’ll need to include on your lawn care business plan is how you’ll document your services with clients. For example, are you going to use a contract? If not, will you use anything else instead, like a signed quote or terms and conditions agreement?
How you keep track of your clients, services, and agreements can have a big impact on your business long-term.
1. Having no lawn care contracts
Using no contract or documentation for the lawn care service you provide can be risky.
If the client chooses to dispute an aspect of your agreement, you won’t have a paper trail to back you up. If you end up in court over the issue, it’s going to be tough for you to prove a verbal agreement.
We recommend having some sort of documentation to prove you have an agreement with your client.
2. Lawn care quote sign-offs
Lawn care estimates show your clients the services you are providing and how much they will cost.
Typically, you give your quote to a client after reviewing their property and service requests.
So, what’s the point of a contract if you’ve already provided a detailed quote to a client?
A hard copy of the quote is a good option for lawn care service providers who want to roll a quote and client signature confirmation into one document to save time and paperwork. If you choose to go this route don’t forget:
There should be a place for the client to sign on your quote
Having the client sign off directly on the quote can help you stay organized by reducing extra pages to keep track of. Just getting a signature isn’t enough though. Make sure you have a line for the signature, client name, and date on your quotes to ensure understood consent.
Once reviewed and signed by a client, the quote should not be changed or altered
If a new service or cost is added, make a new quote for that instead. Ed Ramsden, owner of Enviro Masters Lawn Care suggests:
“You could structure quotes as templates that have different service offering tiers and bump a client up to a different tier when they want more services.”
For example, tier 1 is cutting every week; tier 2 is cutting, trimming, and flower beds; tier 3 is fertilizer throughout summer plus a basic tier.
This can help you avoid mix-ups in your invoicing when your client asks for more work. You would simply send them a new quote and have them sign off on that when they want more services.”
The quote should be complete and include the final cost
Just having a signed quote won’t necessarily protect you from any issues in the future, but it does offer better protection than having nothing at all.
As Ed says, “ultimately, it’s up to you. You can have your client sign a quote and leave it at that. Covering your butt a bit is better than doing nothing at all, even if signing a quote technically isn’t legally binding.”
You can also add information to your quotes, such as terms and conditions, or attach them to the quote.
Ed used to do this. He explains: “I included a line at the bottom that said ‘By paying this quote, you’re accepting our terms and conditions.’ I would send them a copy of our terms and conditions the day I started working on their property,” that way, everyone was on the same page.
3. Lawn care terms and conditions agreements
Your quote tells the client what you will do and how much you will charge. Your terms and conditions outline the exceptions and “rules” that the client agrees to.
For example, your terms and conditions can cover things like:
- Cancellation policies
- Payments terms (late fees, accepted payment methods, etc.)
- Service information (weather exceptions, seasonal services, and time slots)
- Care instructions (how to water newly planted sod and customer responsibilities)
- How to terminate services (accepted methods, notice, etc.)
- Terms and conditions are a great resource to have if a client ever has an issue.
For example, if you are scheduled to mow a lawn at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, and the client calls to cancel at 1:45 PM, you can refer them to the cancellation policy in the terms and conditions they agreed to.
This helps save you time as you don’t need to explain your policy time and time again, and it can help the client understand next steps.
To make your own terms and conditions, you have a few options. The most common are:
Working with a lawyer to determine your terms and conditions and write a legally binding terms and conditions agreement (Best course of action)
Going this route will help you to ensure that you aren’t putting any terms or conditions in your agreement that aren’t completely legal.
For example, your state may have laws regarding late payment fees or how much time a client has to pay a bill. Going against the law could cost you a lot of legal fees you probably want to avoid.
Reviewing a competitor’s terms and conditions for inspiration before writing your own (Temporary option)
If you choose this route, you may still want to have a lawyer review your terms and conditions to make sure that you’re not in a gray area.
This can be a temporary option for a week or so until you seek legal counsel.
Be advised that it is problematic. If your competitor didn’t use a lawyer, you could end up with a big problem if a client ever disputes something.
Some aspects of your terms and conditions may vary from your competitor’s based on the state your business is in, so make sure you do your due diligence. Don’t just copy and paste!
4. Lawn care contracts
A lawn care contract is a combination of a quote and terms and conditions. There should be a place for a client to sign at the end of the contract.
When a client signs a contract, it shows that they agree to the price of the services and the terms of service.
Lawn care contracts are the best way to protect yourself from future issues. Ed thinks that contracts and residential clients should go hand in hand:
“With residential work, I consider contracts implied when you hand over a quote. You spell out the conditions of work you’re going to do and the price it costs.
For example, the quote might indicate that we will come once a month for the following services… ‘Here’s what you should expect, here’s what we give you, here’s what you give us as payment.”
Whether you use a full-on contract created by a lawyer, or you combine a quote sign off with your terms and conditions, a lawn care contract should clearly communicate your responsibilities to the client, and theirs to you.
Keeping track of quotes, contracts, and terms and conditions
However you choose to document your jobs for a client, you should always keep track of any contracts, quotes, or terms and conditions agreements. Especially as you get more lawn care customers, hire employees, and your business grows.
If you use Jobber, attach your document to the client file in your CRM. You can add an attachment under client, request, quote, job, or invoice.
On the client’s profile, on the right side of the page below the billing history box there will be a section called “Internal notes and attachments.” This field also appears on requests, quotes, jobs, and invoices.
Notes made in this field are strictly internal, so your client will not see them. However, you can choose to make them client facing when you email a quote or invoice to your client.
If you use other lawn care software, make sure that it can store signed copies of your documents for you.
Starting a weed control business? Use the same steps above to write a weed control contract for customers.