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Essential clauses in your contract terms?

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by andersman02, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. andersman02

    andersman02 Senior Member
    Messages: 696

    Graduated school this past fall and took over a lot of the snow removal responsibilities for our company (family owned). Our contracts are pretty general and leave a lot to the imagination in regards to leaving the door open to lawsuits on larger properties. I'm redoing the terms and conditions in our contracts to cover our bases a little better. A few terms I have now are:
    1. All snow will be placed on the customers property.
    2. We understand some snow days fall on garbage day. Please try and pull the cans after they have been emptied if at all possible.
    3. (our company) will not be held responsible for damage to driveways in disrepair at the beginning prior to the season.
    4. Lawn Damage- While we try our best to keep turf damage minimal, damage can sometimes be inevitable. Upon request, "Our Company" will repair damages cause during winter plowing. "Our company" will not be held responsible for damages on contracts signs after the first snowfall.

    This is for the residential portion of it, ive yet to do the commercial property part yet. A few for sure ones are slip and fall and damages to property but im not quite sure how to word them.

    What are some clauses you feel NEED to be in a contract?
  2. Italiano67

    Italiano67 Senior Member
    Messages: 638

    How about

    The start and end dates on seasonals.
    Contract termination charge.
    The standard blizzard ( do the best we can ) wording
    Payment terms
    Trigger depth and also wording explaining what that means
    trip charge if someone else did it already.
  3. 2006Sierra1500

    2006Sierra1500 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,758

    Definitely something with triggers and something in the event of a major storm(we'll get there as soon as we can, do the best job we can, etc.)
  4. yardguy28

    yardguy28 Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    I'm still not sold on the idea of contracts for snow removal. according to my friend in the business all I need to do is add the clients to my already there insurance plan.

    I did my first commercial lot this past season. these people are good friends so I felt comfortable with no contract.

    but next season I'm hoping to add another commercial lot and I want to cover myself the BEST way possible for me and my business.

    I'm solo and service 20 residential driveways and 1 commercial lot. my friend has 6 employees and does I don't know how many residential and commercial. all he does is add his commercial lots to his insurance policy.
  5. Italiano67

    Italiano67 Senior Member
    Messages: 638

    I don't know how to respond to not believing in commercial contracts. There is so many things that can go bad without having one I wont waste my time in typing them all out.
    A few notables might be someone else under cutting you after you commit men and machinery to the account. No recourse without a contract. No specs defined so they could say they wont pay because it wasn't what they wanted. How about the main one of not having the financial charges for doing the work spelled out?
  6. SnowClear

    SnowClear Senior Member
    Messages: 106

    Your contract is an effort to spell out exactly what services are contracted for, how you will perform the services before, during, and after snow events, your responsibility for liability with regard to slip n' fall claims and so forth. It sounds like you are on the right path by strengthening the contract language. But don't stop there. I would suggest adding a "snow response plan" and/or "scope of work" to your current contractual arrangements. Think of this as a means to set expectations and establish the framework for communication when the customer has a dispute with your service performance. If you are a SIMA member you can find a few templates that might work well for you (as well as sample commercial and residential contracts too). A contract is absolutely necessary regardless if the work is performed for residential or commercial accounts - even if it is your best friend/family. Not only do you have to worry about lawsuits from the property owner, you must consider that the property owner's insurance company will have an incentive to recover claims paid to their insured (your customer) if you don't have a strong contract in place.

    For residential accounts my terms and conditions specifically state that the customer contracted for snow removal services at customer risk only and contractor (me) accepts no liability for damages whatsoever.
  7. 04ram1500

    04ram1500 Member
    Messages: 97

    Here is the contract that I use for my commercial clients. It should give you a rough idea of what should be included in yours. It has been approved by my lawyer here in PA. I would recommend whatever contract you use have a lawyer in your jurisdiction read it over first.


  8. yardguy28

    yardguy28 Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    well I am a solo operator so committing men to an account is not necessary.

    guess I'm not sure about contracts because I've never used one PERIOD. I'm a lawn maintenance business and every client I've ever worked for both residential has been hired over the phone or in person and work is performed and invoiced at the end of the month for completed work only.

    this is how I run my business in all aspects.
  9. andersman02

    andersman02 Senior Member
    Messages: 696

    Good stuff guys. I thinking that I may right a Snow Only contract instead of a general contract for commercial customers. Theres so much information that should be placed in the contract!

    04ram- thanks a bunch for an example of your contract, it is well thought out and will help a lot.

    Yardguy- As we are getting more and more business, many new customers we have yet to build a relationship with so it would be very hard for me to do a handshake type of deal.

    Everyone else great input!
  10. yardguy28

    yardguy28 Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    I understand the handshake isn't for everyone and I'm not sure when your talking commercial snow removal it should be for anyone, not even me. that's why I posted in this thread.

    last winter was the first winter I plowed a commercial lot. these were friends of mine who hired me because there guy was having knee surgery and giving up snow removal. no contract with that guy either. and as I said my buddy who's been plowing snow for 13 years commercially has never used a contract. just added there name to his insurance.

    so I'm undecided on which route I should go for the next commercial lot I pick up.
  11. andersman02

    andersman02 Senior Member
    Messages: 696

    Unless your good friends i couldnt see not having some sort of contract in place. Even with a good friend i dunno. When we started plowing (bout 4 years ago) we did my dads' good friends 2 properties. The larger one that takes 1.25 hrs was also partly owned by my father and we didnt do a contract for that one but did on his other property. Since then everyone that isnt family or famiyl friend doing a 1 time gets a contract. Residential we are more leniant and will do our existing summer customers without contract for 1 snowfall (usually when we get 10+ inches ofcourse). I can understand the handshake method for residentials if your a 1 man crew and have a good relationship with your customers
  12. yardguy28

    yardguy28 Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    I can see both sides. I just can't figure out which is the best side for me, my business and my situation.

    all I've heard on this site is why I should have a contract. no one has even mentioned adding the clients name to an insurance policy like my buddy does. would this be an acceptable way?
  13. JTVLandscaping

    JTVLandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 860

    All this does is list them as additional insured on your policy. Great for the client...means they are covered and know they are covered. This still does nothing to ensure that you're getting paid for what you do. You can have an agreement that you will plow when 3" has accumulated, and then it snows 2" and someone slips and when they go after you there's nothing in writing saying you don't come until there is 3". If I was insuring someone without a contract, I'd lay down so much salt you'd need to rake it smooth before you left. CYA man.