People expecting grinding a stump means remove it too

Al_trees

Member
Location
Connecticut
Hi fellow business owners,

I just had a customer call me up wondering when we are going to be back to clean up his stump. We looked at the job tree removal and stump grinding job a while ago and had to put it off due to weather, soft ground that type of thing.

I had my stump contractor hit the stump after we removed the tree and I thought all was well until the customer texted to ask when we were coming back to clean it up and take it all away.

I explained it was never in the estimate but we could come out for "x" and do that. He flipped out about it. He has the written work order which explicitly states the debris from the stump will be left on site where it is ground. At time of the quotation he said to leave the stuff and he would deal with it. I think his memory is fuzzy and he hasn't read the estimate in a while.

I had this happen years ago when the signed contract said grind stump for $200. The guy never paid us because he expected it removed. I let it go and from then on wrote either leave or remove debris depending upon what they requested at time of estimate.

So how do you clarify to people what you intend to do based upon their request? "Leave debris where it is ground" seems very specific but apparently not idiot proof.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
My first thought is that people do not actually read what they’re signing, they just sign, expecting that you’ll do what they want anyway. You have to explain to them that they’ve signed a legally binding contract that explains your obligations and their obligations, and make it clear that you’ve fulfilled your legal obligations, and you expect them to fulfill theirs. If they don’t, call your lawyer. Before that though, send them a demand letter and at the bottom, write in “CC: {Your lawyer, PC}” and they may realize they can’t pull one over on you so easily.

There’s probably not a lot more than you can do besides add more words. Our contract says, “Stump grinding does not include removal of the stump grindings, removal and seeding is available for an extra charge.” We still get people who don’t understand/care/or want to care - we had one last year say, in writing, “I don’t care what the contract I signed says, you will do____.” Our lawyer set him straight in pretty short order on that one, after he laughed when he read it.
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
"Stump Grinding, Seperate Through Sub-contractor. Leave the woodchips to Degrade"

This is how I list stump grinding on my quotes, I then have a description that explains that my subcontractor is a separate company and that my price is an estimation that may vary depending on what he says.

I'm pretty good at guessing his prices, but with this verbiage I can give the customer a price that is close enough for them to decide yay or nay without waiting for him to quote each job.

If they do want stump cleanup, that's listed as a separate line item.
 

climbingmonkey24

Well-Known Member
Location
United States
Do a quick overview of the work to be performed with them the morning you arrive before actually starting (assuming they are at the property of course).

"So just to clarify, we will be removing this tree with full cleanup and removal of debris, grinding the stump but leaving the stump material behind, etc."

Bring your contract / estimate with you that documents the job in writing and if they start to disagree with you, show it to them.

You need to be prepared to deal with an unreasonable customer.

Have them sign a copy of the contract for themselves and for you. So when you present that documentation to them if they start disagreeing with you it isn't just a document that looks like you could've just written it up, it clearly has their signature on it.
 
Last edited:

Simpleiowaguy

Well-Known Member
Location
Vinton
I dont even offer stumps for this reason. I simply explain that it isn't a service that I offer but I have a short list of recommendations for them to contact.
 

flushcut

Well-Known Member
Location
Delavan, WI
You need to specify what is going to be done in layman terms. And cleaning up stumps is easy money with BMG scoops. I charge double for clean ups. No dirt/seed or sod under any circumstances I just don't offer that as a service. They didn't water it dies you get a call no thanks. Same with tree planting I offer no warranty.
 

Al_trees

Member
Location
Connecticut
You need to specify what is going to be done in layman terms. And cleaning up stumps is easy money with BMG scoops. I charge double for clean ups. No dirt/seed or sod under any circumstances I just don't offer that as a service. They didn't water it dies you get a call no thanks. Same with tree planting I offer no warranty.
We use the rake and bmg scoops as well. Makes a tough job quick and cuts out all the manual labor. Definitely charge the same as grinding for removal. I agree.
 

Al_trees

Member
Location
Connecticut
This is how our proposals are setup
And the well explained process of its an extra charge for the grindings to be hauled away View attachment 75632
That is a really great idea. I currently write up estimates on quickbooks but have been wanting to order a custom form like that so I can present it to the customer right away. Only thing is I have usually worked 10 or more hours by the time I look at jobs. Writing them later helps to have a clear head and more accurate pricing. Maybe writing the job description on the template at time of estimate and calculating the price afterwards would work well for me.
 

Al_trees

Member
Location
Connecticut
My first thought is that people do not actually read what they’re signing, they just sign, expecting that you’ll do what they want anyway. You have to explain to them that they’ve signed a legally binding contract that explains your obligations and their obligations, and make it clear that you’ve fulfilled your legal obligations, and you expect them to fulfill theirs. If they don’t, call your lawyer. Before that though, send them a demand letter and at the bottom, write in “CC: {Your lawyer, PC}” and they may realize they can’t pull one over on you so easily.

There’s probably not a lot more than you can do besides add more words. Our contract says, “Stump grinding does not include removal of the stump grindings, removal and seeding is available for an extra charge.” We still get people who don’t understand/care/or want to care - we had one last year say, in writing, “I don’t care what the contract I signed says, you will do____.” Our lawyer set him straight in pretty short order on that one, after he laughed when he read it.
That seems to be the case. People really don't read which seems crazy but true. I have heard people say things like"I assumed it had everything we talked about." Funny thing is sometimes people are indecisive and what they ponder might not make it into the estimate. Saying "I have thought about pruning that tree for a while but I don't want to spend the money right now" is different than saying I want to prune that tree. A month goes by and they forget the last part of their own sentence. Just recently I started having people sign their estimates.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Olympia, WA
That seems to be the case. People really don't read which seems crazy but true. I have heard people say things like"I assumed it had everything we talked about." Funny thing is sometimes people are indecisive and what they ponder might not make it into the estimate. Saying "I have thought about pruning that tree for a while but I don't want to spend the money right now" is different than saying I want to prune that tree. A month goes by and they forget the last part of their own sentence. Just recently I started having people sign their estimates.
I want to prune that tree

is miles from

i will pay you to prune that tree to those specs.
 

owScott

Well-Known Member
Location
Lafayette
My first thought is that people do not actually read what they’re signing, they just sign, expecting that you’ll do what they want anyway. You have to explain to them that they’ve signed a legally binding contract that explains your obligations and their obligations, and make it clear that you’ve fulfilled your legal obligations, and you expect them to fulfill theirs. If they don’t, call your lawyer. Before that though, send them a demand letter and at the bottom, write in “CC: {Your lawyer, PC}” and they may realize they can’t pull one over on you so easily.

There’s probably not a lot more than you can do besides add more words. Our contract says, “Stump grinding does not include removal of the stump grindings, removal and seeding is available for an extra charge.” We still get people who don’t understand/care/or want to care - we had one last year say, in writing, “I don’t care what the contract I signed says, you will do____.” Our lawyer set him straight in pretty short order on that one, after he laughed when he read it.
You and I had this exact conversation. People dont want to be left with a mess. They dont really think in the beginning they just usually go off the idea cheaper is better. Then when your done they arent happy. Doesnt matter how you word it or how explicitly you explain it they arent happy in the end. They are wrong of course and legally you are in the right. But in the end all that doesnt matter if they bad mouth you or you have to use a lawyer to get paid. You may win in court but you will loss in Google review which in this day carries more weight than the profit of 1 stump grind. This is why I just bid my stumps to do the clean up to avoid this whole senerio. If they dont like the stump price fine, thats why I havent found stumps too profitable because the clean up sucks. Profitable yes to just grind and go. But you only need a few of these shit shows to create alot of headache. We both know how busy we are and going back to any job for any reason sucks.
 

owScott

Well-Known Member
Location
Lafayette
Hi fellow business owners,

I just had a customer call me up wondering when we are going to be back to clean up his stump. We looked at the job tree removal and stump grinding job a while ago and had to put it off due to weather, soft ground that type of thing.

I had my stump contractor hit the stump after we removed the tree and I thought all was well until the customer texted to ask when we were coming back to clean it up and take it all away.

I explained it was never in the estimate but we could come out for "x" and do that. He flipped out about it. He has the written work order which explicitly states the debris from the stump will be left on site where it is ground. At time of the quotation he said to leave the stuff and he would deal with it. I think his memory is fuzzy and he hasn't read the estimate in a while.

I had this happen years ago when the signed contract said grind stump for $200. The guy never paid us because he expected it removed. I let it go and from then on wrote either leave or remove debris depending upon what they requested at time of estimate.

So how do you clarify to people what you intend to do based upon their request? "Leave debris where it is ground" seems very specific but apparently not idiot proof.
I bid every stump to clean it up. If they ask is it cheaper to leave the grindings I say yes. Eliminates the whole problem. If they dont like the price even better stumps suck. I stump grind to sweeten the removal proposal. Customers like turn key. Saying you are passing them to another contractor for another day turns some people off.
 

colb

Well-Known Member
Location
Florida
I sometimes itemize the grinding separately from the removal or onsite transport of grindings. Other times I just say "grindings left in place". I do not always smooth them down unless it is a client I know because the client cannot see the depth of the grind if I smooth it over. It's definitely important to specify in writing. If I specify and the client feels I did not, it is straightforward to funnel all the shame and rage to dissipate on the written estimate rather than me, or the client. I have not had that happen with stump grindings, but had a similar incident with chipping.

A bad review on Google isn't going to be an issue unless this kind of thing is happening all the time. It's usually easy to look good on social media compared to other companies - just don't post pics of your kid and Boobie Bouncer window sticker. @JeffGu no charge for that tip man.
 

Knotguilty

New Member
Location
Sarasota
1621179742309.png
Something else they don't seem to read. The damage waiver. I hit something about 10% of the time. I just about always fix it anyway. Don't know what is under there, even if I call 811 underground utility. I'm very good at finding your cable wire for your TV/Internet. I can splice coaxial but not fiberoptic. Yes, I clean up the mulch even though after the grinding itemization is says "leave stump mulch". What is with that?

I was better off when I was subcontracting the stump grinding. They come in, run over the flowers, cover half the lawn with stump shavings, demolish the uderground irrgation, leave tire tracks on the dirveway and haul ass. Then demand payment in full from me, dont' tell you about all the damage.
 

owScott

Well-Known Member
Location
Lafayette
I go into every stump job with the idea I will hit irrigation and keep a whole kit on the truck and take extra hose of all 3 main sizes when headed out to SG. I expect to clean everything up, I move plants, lay down plywood as not to rut lawns etc. All this is baked into my proposal. Bottom line I run a business based on service. If you leave the customer with any grief thats not a good long term plan for success. Telling the customer they should have read the contract and the clean up or irrigation is now their problem and walking away, can't see that.
 

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