Top Reason Residential Lawn Maintenance Contracts Are Bad Business

Jonathan has been upfront about how he feels about residential lawn maintenance contracts. Here is the number one reason he feels they impede your success.

I’ve recorded a number of videos on why I think contracts for residential maintenance are completely unnecessary, and I’m against them. I’m going to record one more video and I’m going to give you one reason. I’m going to condense it down. If you want a bunch of reasons, Google contracts and lawn care, you’ll find some of my YouTube videos and potentially a blog post, or two.

I’m going to give you the one deciding factor. If there were no other reason, and there was only this one reason, this is why I do not believe in, and would not institute residential contracts in my business. You may or may not agree. Many don’t, but here’s the reason. Speed. Your prospect is not sitting around saying, “Man, I wish that my lawn care provider, my pest control provider, my whatever provider would make me sign a contract.”

Remember, I’m focused on residential maintenance. They’re not sitting around saying that. They’re not saying, “You know, I really would like to sign a contract for four thousand dollars, and lock me up for the rest of the year, and if my husband loses his job, or we want to move, or something goes wrong, I don’t like the provider, I would really like to be in a contract when that happens.”

Nobody wants that. That is not the way they want to work with you, and so why not take that completely out of the equation, because when you add it you create resistance, and you slow everything down. Because now you have to measure everything. You have to figure out in advance for the whole year what they might need, and you have to sell all that to them.

Then they have to have a family discussion about whether or not you’re the best provider for four thousand dollars versus another, and if they should sign the contract, is this a good idea? Should we really include that service that they quoted, or take it out? Maybe just do it next year? It complicates everything, slows everything down, and you have opened the door for your competitor, who is potentially, more savvy.

Maybe unfair, but he is thinking a little bit differently, and he’s focused on speed. He has an inordinate opportunity to win the business over you. For example, let’s just break it down. Company A, Company B.

Company A says, “You know what? We don’t require contracts. We might even know how to price over the phone for certain services. You call us, we answer the phone every time you call, Mr. Prospect. Every time the phone rings we answer the phone, and then we find out what you need. We give you a price over the phone. We make you a client right there. We don’t require a contract, nothing, done, solved.”

That prospect is off the market. They’re not price shopping. The rest of the companies that they already called, they called back with prices, probably won’t get return phone calls. They have solved their problem. Mental to-do list item “Get lawn care company” checked off. Out of their mind, done, finished, they’re on to everything else going on in their world, soccer practice, and church, and work, and everything else.

They’re done with that. They’re sold. They’re your client. Company B talks to the same client, hopefully answers the phone, and they have to come out and walk the property, and give an estimate. They need to have a conversation about everything you might want to buy, and then they find a few things at the property that they want to go ahead and propose now that you might need this year so they can get it in the contract.

Then they have to write the contract, and they have to send you the contract. There might be a little back and forth. You know the game. Okay, who wins in that deal? Me, or Company A, who solves all your problems, and solves your to-do list, gets that thing off your to-do list in a twenty minute phone call, fifteen minute phone call, done, finished. Or Company B, that turns this thing into a five-day ordeal? Who wins?

Company A wins almost every time. There might be one exception. If Company A sucks, their quality sucks, their customer service sucks, and Company B is great, okay, now Company B is definitely still in the running, but if we have two similar companies in terms of quality and service, Company A generally wins that game. Now imagine that Company A and B each spend a hundred grand a year on marketing, and for a hundred grand you need a good return on investment.

You need a hundred grand to yield you a lot of new clients that spend a lot of money. Who wins that game? Company A wins that game because they can convert at a much higher percentage, a lot more clients for their marketing spent than Company B. Their company keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Company B slowly gets bigger. They have more and more money to spend on better service, better people, better equipment, more marketing, on and on and on, and it just sort of amplifies.

It compounds, and that company just keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger while Company B says, “I don’t understand why this market’s so hard. I don’t understand why I can’t get big. Company A must just be getting lucky.” No, Company A made a really savvy decision to optimize their business around speed and what the client wants, and they don’t require contracts.

Company B didn’t do that, and therefore they grow slower, and they don’t understand why they’re growing slower. Now, are there exceptions? Of course. Are there companies that require residential maintenance contracts that have multi, multi, multi-million dollar companies that make lots of money and do fantastic? Of course, but they are generally really savvy at sales. They’re also really on top of things.

They probably do a fantastic job of renewing. They spend a lot more money to do it, and they have success with it. Most companies won’t spend the money that those guys will spend. Most companies won’t do the follow through that the guys that do maintenance contracts and require them and still win the game. They probably don’t have the same follow through that that company has.

Can you be successful? Absolutely. Of course. I’m just simply saying if you want to find the optimal business model, my argument is it’s the one based on speed. I believe that that business model wins whether you’re in Canada, New York, Texas, Florida, I don’t care where you are, because you’re giving the client a solution that they want, and speed wins every day.

Another example of speed: Company A answers the phone, Company B doesn’t answer the phone. Who wins the business? We all know the company that answers the phone wins because they’re getting to the client, the prospect quicker. Exact same thing with selling the business.

The job is to take that prospect off the market as fast as you can so they can’t price quote you, so they can’t compare you, before they get too busy and forget about it, get too busy and say, “You know what? I’ll deal with it next month.” Your job is to make that happen fast. It’s all about speed. Contracts do nothing to increase speed. They slow everything down. That’s the one reason.

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