What do you do when you show up to an agreed upon job and it's already done?

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
Benjo, that sucks and she knows better.

Quit calling your contract an estimate, IME. Call it a contract.

"I'll send you a contract for your signature." I frequently just call it "a proposal for your consideration". I haven't had such problems, so I make it sound softer, mostly.

A solid contract sounds like its required for a lein.
 

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
Or never speak to them again and one day take the signs and plates off of the truck and dump a load in their driveway.
I have wanted to do that so much! Pile of huge rotten logs in the driveway of an unpaying customer... Not worth it, but it would feel so good. @Benjo75 I had your issue for the first time last year and feel the frustration. Mine was a 10min drive so not as much of a headache though.
 

Benjo75

Active Member
I'll chalk it up to Mercury being in retro grade and move on. Thanks for all the advice. I'm getting less and less patient with people in my old age I guess. Lol.
 

Fivepoints

Well-Known Member
I'd still send her a well written bill detailing the costs you have incured. What's it going to hurt? It will take less time than posting here. She may have a lightbulb moment but probably not. I may have missed it but did you get a signed estimate approving the work from her?
 

Benjo75

Active Member
I didn't get a signed estimate. Hardly ever do unless it's a huge job. Most people don't accept the estimate right then. Most have to think about it while they call everyone in the country looking for the lowest bid. I'm trying hard to weed those customers out and keep them from calling me at all. The others have to run it by their wife or husband. I guess most couples anymore can't make a decision on tree work without consulting each other. You know they've already talked about what they want done and how much they can spend. The only way I could get a signed estimate would be to mail them another copy, have them sign it and mail it back or make another trip back out there. No problem on big jobs but I get lots of 300 and 400 dollar jobs that it wouldn't pay off on.
 

Talon Tree Service

Active Member
I didn't get a signed estimate. Hardly ever do unless it's a huge job. Most people don't accept the estimate right then. Most have to think about it while they call everyone in the country looking for the lowest bid. I'm trying hard to weed those customers out and keep them from calling me at all. The others have to run it by their wife or husband. I guess most couples anymore can't make a decision on tree work without consulting each other. You know they've already talked about what they want done and how much they can spend. The only way I could get a signed estimate would be to mail them another copy, have them sign it and mail it back or make another trip back out there. No problem on big jobs but I get lots of 300 and 400 dollar jobs that it wouldn't pay off on.
Get yourself an ipad and email them a digital estimate. Make up an estimate template and fill one out for each client then email it. All they have to do is confirm the work through the email. Keeps all estimates in one place, no stacks of paper and filing bs. Also cheaper than paper estimates for every client.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
Get yourself an ipad and email them a digital estimate. Make up an estimate template and fill one out for each client then email it. All they have to do is confirm the work through the email. Keeps all estimates in one place, no stacks of paper and filing bs. Also cheaper than paper estimates for every client.
Good way to do it go most clients however not sure how it is where you are but I find older retirees resistant to email anything...
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
I've been using joist for the last 6 months or so. All estimates and invoices are neatly organized, estimates can be signed electronically at the customers convenience and payments via credit cards can be collected through the site. A neat feature if you pay for it, is you get notifications whenever a client opens an estimate or invoice, or signs/pays. I try to send all my estimates electronically through either text or email, the customer gets a hyperlink to a secure website (joint's website) to view their prices. Rarely I have to print it out and mail it.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
Jobber lets you know when an email has been opened (did they get the bid??? YES).
Jobber lets you send a text link.
Easy record keeping.
Easy to accept CC anytime (storm work) as a CC processor (I don't normally take CCs. I can wait for a check to be mailed from the customer or their bank.

You can print a paper copy for those customers. Little printers are available for the rig.



Doing what you say you will do, without a contract is great, until they mis-remember the agreement, or end up with some unexpected expense. Handshakes and following your word are still the main idea, with paper backing it up.

If you don't want to give them an on-paper, shop-it-around, price-to-beat,
and they want to contract with you, just snail-mail two copies, one for them ("your copy"), one to be returned in the self-addressed, stamped envelope (Please sign, date, and mail). Older people can be great customers. Work with them how they want to be worked with. An easy transaction without computers, and no misunderstandings.


Being more modern and formal, with Jobber or the like (use me a referral for us both to get a free month, or something) might get you more of the customers you want.


Older people have memory problems more often. Having something tangible, as a reference can help a lot.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
And don’t forget the willingness of some very few that will play the hand that will squeeze extra into the job using whatever social perception they can for the advantage - these contracts are crucial in those cases...
 

Mitch Hoy

Active Member
And don’t forget the willingness of some very few that will play the hand that will squeeze extra into the job using whatever social perception they can for the advantage - these contracts are crucial in those cases...
That’s a tough one. Some of those people I play tough with and they will 180. Some you just have to become their little b**** after falling into their wiles for a day and get through it. They are usually the people that religiously write reviews, and won’t give 5 stars unless you offer to walk the dog too. So play the game! Offer to walk the dog. Get through it, get the five star, and learn from it so the next time you sniff out another egocentrist, you can charge them a “kingly sum.”
 

Benjo75

Active Member
Thanks. All good advice. Anyone have any copies of a digital statement they wouldn't mind sharing. I'm looking for some ideas to start on one. The only stipulation my paper estimate has right now is "Estimate good for 30 days from above date." I need a small catalog of stipulations now but I doubt anyone would read it.

Ex. Anything extra costs extra
No one allowed within 200 ft of job site, workers and equipment.
Please put up all animals, children and grandparents.
Unlock all gates beforehand
I have about a thousand of these but they wouldn't fit on a paper estimate.
 

Benjo75

Active Member
They may sound harsh or stupid but they are things that anyone with a shred of common sense wouldn't even have to be told. But I have to repeat them all day. From the top of a tree. And with hearing protection, saws and equipment running I have to holler. Then they tell me I don't have to be a butt about it.
 

39Buick

Well-Known Member
I have been following along gleaning info from all those who have posted. It sucks running into people that screw you around like this in the tree business or any other business.
I run a low voltage company and run into this problem all the time.
Now when I meet with a potential customer and detail what they are asking for and what we are providing its quickly and easily documented with the joist app and it is absolutely FREE to use. Jobber is also another but you'll only get 14 days for free.
Have been using www.joist.com since 2014 and have never paid a dime. They came out with the PRO version a few months ago and it's like $10 per month if you choose to pay for the service. I believe jobber starts around $30 a month. Both app's are customizable for your particular circumstances or business models 1 is just a third of the price!
Long story short, Customer agrees to everything and signs the ipad or a printed document prior to any scheduling. Job gets done and I get paid. But.......
Depending upon where one resides or does business a signed contract can be a good tool but for the most part, unless you're talking about thousands of dollars they are pretty useless for a small business person as the costs and TIME involved in pursuing a legal recourse can be daunting and in the end just waste more time!
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Like I said earlier in the thread a lien on property gives contractors a HUGE bit of leverage. I didn't learn about that power until the end of my contracting time

The few that I filed all paid off...100% with no dickering.

A lien is like a time bomb attached to the title of the property. It sits there waiting until the property is going to be sold. Then during the title search is done it shows up.Th buyer and seller are notified and some resolution comes around. The mortgage process has been well underway by the time the lien is found. The process is going ahead and isn't likely to be stopped by our lien. Evne a lien of a couple thousand compared to a mortgage of tens of tens of thousands will plow on.

What I found was that I was contacted and a check came my way along with documentation to lif the lien. No sweat, no gut ache, no conciliation court.

The lien time bomb is defused and I got paid for what was owed...with a huge pile of GLOAT to beat the chislers.
 

Finky198

Member
I am in the process of making a brochure and FAQ so everything is spelled out in a polite manner. It’s long, but necessary.
Mitch when you get finished with that would you mind posting it... even if I didn’t hand them out it would make a great cheat sheet for me.

I do my estimates out of a binder usually while doing a walk around with the client.
I give them small packet 2 biz cards, a mini flyer, and our 4 page estimates 2 pages of the job related info, the rest is contract mubo jumbo ( once singed this becomes contractual, Inclement weather clause, performance/workmanship, ownership of property, terms of payment, and breach of contract)

No matter how big or small the job is I get them to sign and it and I take a photo. I keep the signed copy. I can hand deliver, mail, fax, email, or text a copy. I sign and date each one when they do so they can’t fudge with it as well. When we start, finish and get paid I mark that down and initial...

I have not had many issues with people...
a well informed client is your best defense.
 
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