What Your Lawn Care Provider Does Not Want You To Know.
Long-term Service Contract? Service Commitment? Terms of Agreement Over 12 Months? Oral Commitment of 6 Visits? Lawn Care Service Providers of All Sizes Have A Lot of Confusing Mambo Jumbo To Throw You Off. Now Updated for 2019, What Your Lawn Care Provider Does Not Want You To Know.
New homeowners in Austin and perhaps elswehere sometimes get confused of what a long-term lawn service contract actually means to them. Some of whom we have spoken with thought that having one saves them money. This may perhaps be true if lawn care service providers are losing money servicing lawns. With the industry, according to IBIS World, worth $78 billion and having grown 4.6% in 2016, it is safe to assume they are NOT losing money.
The industry contends that contracts have been an industry-wide practice for decades. This is particularly true for huge sprawling commercial properties. Bidding on these commercial lots are cutthroat. That we know all too well. And why shouldn't it not? Commercial properties have economies of scale due to the sheer sizes of their lots. Because lawn care providers had to acquire additional trucks, trailers, laborers, and other equipment just to service them, the long-term service contract was created to avoid the commercial property management company from walking away easily. That is to say that from the perspective of the lawn care provider, the long-term service contract is there to protect the lawn business. It provides proof to creditors that the additional debt incurred from assets purchased are feasible and can be carried throughout the duration of the contract. In Austin, we notice the same logic being applied by lawn care providers to Austin homeowners. A growing number of homeowners in Austin are being asked to sign similar long-term service contract for their modest lawns. But the question begs to be answered, why do lawn care providers require homeowners to sign a long-term service contract in the first place?
In this blog entry, 50K Professional Lawn Services LLC explores what your lawn care provider does not want you to know. Let's begin, shall we? The long-term service contract is there to do the following:
1. To Make You Overpay
On commercial properties, professional managers almost always already know what they want out of the service. These managers are there to protect the property owner's interests. They have what people in the industry call, "Specs Sheet" or "Specifications". The Specs Sheet have all the services they want to see. It includes height, diameter, color, shade, etc. The detail will mesmerize you should you actually see one. From years of experience and lots of data from blind bids, property managers know what they want, and know how much the going rate is. The same can not be said for the typical homeowner (except, of course, for the really savvy ones! You know who you are.). But we digress. See, on a residential setting, the long-term service contract makes the deal sound really great at first glance because everything has been bundled together. They commonly call the bundles "Basic", "Better", and "Best". The really profitable bundle, a company will typically say, "Best Value", to somehow make you feel you outsmarted them. In fact, they outsmarted you. By bundling all services, the lawn care provider is making it much more difficult for you to decipher how much each service actually cost. The really big lawn companies will typically have a highly trained salesman/lady as a front liner. If you ever talk to one over the phone, they are easy on the ears. If you ever walked in to one of their locations, they are easy on the eyes. This is part of the sales process, and most homeowners stand little to no chance to these highly persuasive professionals. See, the sales team do this kind of thing all day, everyday. You are just another customer out of hundreds if not thousands of prospective leads they have talked with in the past few days. You will first be told of how great it is that you will now only be paying a flat rate. Imagine bundling your landline and internet services. You may think you're saving money until you realize you don't even use the landline. Nobody calls the landline except telemarketers! The same logic can be said for residential lawn care service contracts. It may be great when you need all those services, or when you just know more information than the "house", or in this case lawn care provider. Chances are that is not the case. You will be bombarded with industry jargon you are not familiar with. Now, coupled with a little tactical push and pull from the sales team, it is only a matter of time before you justify to yourself that you are ripe for the hook. After all, if you have incomplete information, it will be harder for you to compare similar services from other companies. Their hope is that you won't do a thorough research and will simply sign on the dotted line. But of course, you know better. That's why you're here.
Only order the services you need right now. If they want you to sign up for other services, ask for their justifications. If you are satisfied, check for more information to other references online. The idea is to trust your professional lawn provider but verify their justifications.
2. To Force You To Prepay For Services
This is connected to reason number one. The long-term service contract forces you to prepay for services you either will not need until much later in the season or do not need at all. Lawn care providers use long-term service contracts as a strategy to get paid in advance at the beginning of the season. A simple mowing that should have only cost you $40 will now be $80 because you are paying for upcoming services. They use it to bundle other services that under normal circumstances, you probably won't purchase anyway or may not even need. We see this all the time. Lawn care service providers spraying herbicides when weeds can just be pulled, and applying fertilizers when soil nutrients are normal. Herbicide overuse is already a problem and is producing herbicide resistant strains of weeds according to the director of Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative published on Phys.org, a leading web-based science, research and technology news service. Herbicide overuse in the green industry is no different than the overuse of antibiotics in the medical industry. There are adverse effects in misusing great products. The same can be said in the overuse of fertilizers. SFGate.com reports, "The misuse of fertilizer often has negative effects on fish and other aquatic animals. Algae feed off of the nutrients in fertilizers, using up oxygen that fish and other animals need. Additionally, ammonia released by fertilizer is harmful to fish." The problem with long-term service contracts is as much of an economic problem to the typical household in Austin as an environmental one. They push so many products to make a profit. In most cases, they push too much that we end up wasting resources.
Look for lawn care service providers that avoid the use of herbicide and synthetic fertilizers. There are a lot of reasons why the use of herbicides are controlled. For herbicides that can be purchased at your local big box store, hold off until the controversy regarding cancer has been cleared. It is much better to stay healthy than to fully eliminate weeds on your plant bed. See Roundup Lawsuit. There are a lot of organic and natural herbicides on the market that are naturally occurring and are safe for pets, children, and our aquatic resources. Only use organic fertilizers after a soil test. A soil test will give you the immediate nutrient available for a specific area. There is no need to pre-package these services. Only use the products as needed.
3. To Lock You In
The long-term service contract avoids competition and locks you up with the lawn care service provider regardless of service quality and customer satisfaction. There are a lot of bad apples in our industry. Yes, even large bad and rotten apples. Go to Yelp or Google Reviews, and you will read a lot stories from large franchise businesses to large publicly listed companies. Some lawn care providers have tried all the smarts in the world can muster to break the business down into a science, where one client can bring a certain number of profit and so on, that the overwhelming majority of lawn service providers, both large and small, fail to see the real intrinsic value for having great clients with whom you have great relationships with over a long period of time. A long term lawn service contract will limit your options months down the road. But why risk being unhappy and getting stuck with a lawn care service provider you no longer want? See, in a commercial property, the lawn only needs to look presentable because nobody lives there. Professional managers, moreover, do not have the kind of appreciation for their commercial properties similar to the one you have for your home. At your home's lawn, you play with your children, play fetch with your dog, relax with your wife, and celebrate the good times with other family and friends. Frankly, one of the best moments in life are created at your home, a stark contrast to that found at a place of business. When you are not restricted by a long-term lawn service contract to walk away at anytime, you keep the lawn care service provider on its toes. Because of this, service quality greatly improves and customers stay not because of legal obligation but because they are absolutely happy and fully satisfied. This we think is the right way to go. It may have been a long and winding road of capitalism, but we truly believe we will all end up back to where we started, just like the good old days.
Only use on-demand lawn service and ask to setup a risk-free recurring service. By going for this route, you will have the same benefits of a "service contract" without having to sign one. Services will still recur automatically, only this time you can walk away at anytime. Also, the best way to make sure that you are on the right path is to CALL your chosen lawn care service provider. If your call went straight to voicemail, then you know what to expect should you move forward with them. In the event that the provider answered the call, expect the provider to be an expert in the industry and be able to answer all your questions to your full satisfaction. No matter if they are office personnel or general manager. They must be trained in the business they are in. A lot of lawn care service providers now have an answering service to answer calls. Answering service as of this writing are absolutely clueless to who you are and what you need. They are just there to write down notes. At this point, express your desire to maintain your entire lawn and your need for guidance. If guidance is not there, move along. The typical mow, blow, and go guy will be hard pressed to discuss extensive maintenance outside of mowing. A trusted provider, on the other hand, will always perform a free soil fertility test and bore testing before quoting any type of service. They do not just fertilize because of a schedule. Fertilizer is applied because nutrients are insufficient. They also do not aerate just for the sake of aerating. They aerate because a bore test confirmed specific compaction points. These two free tests alone will save you hundreds of dollars in unnecessary services.
We hope to have added an insightful perspective on this topic. Let's keep on tearing up those long-term contracts! Add them to your compost pile! For more information about lawn care contracts, here are 3 Reasons Why You Should Dump Your Residential Lawn Care Contract