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Taking a Client that does not Sign a Contract

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by PGHplowguy, Nov 13, 2014.

  1. PGHplowguy

    PGHplowguy Senior Member
    Messages: 102

    Hey guys.

    Sort of an odd scenario for me personally. I have potential client that wants to award my company the "contract" to service their lot this winter. It is a good lot that pays right. The only catch is that they do not and refuse to sign a contract. Every other client/lots I have I have a signed contract. Obviously for payment, situations.... and most importantly liability.

    With this place not having one in place is that a terrible move for me or does it not matter? Assuming they pay me on time every time without an issue do you suggest take it or run? What if someone does legitimately slips and falls and gets hurt or even dies. Am I on the hook in any way?

    Thanks for the help.
  2. derekslawncare

    derekslawncare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,003

    I'm a Pink Floyd fan, so I'm going to quote the lyrics to one of my favorite songs: RUN LIKE HELL! As for the legal ramifications of servicing without one, I'm not a lawyer so I won't comment on that portion of it, however, from a payment side, if they don't want to sign a contract, there is probably a reason. IE, they don't want to pay you and they don't want anything in writing when you try to go to court. This is a no brainer for me. I would walk swiftly and not even look back.
  3. PGHplowguy

    PGHplowguy Senior Member
    Messages: 102

    Thanks for the opinion. I know the facilities manager personally. He is a good man and I trust him. They also pay weekly. So even if payment became a problem it wouldn't go far for a lot...

    My dilemma is the legal end. The slip and fall lawsuit if it did ever happen.
  4. Gtep

    Gtep Junior Member
    Messages: 12

    Would you buy a car without a title?
  5. dieselss

    dieselss PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,395

    Remember, verbal orders don't go. Get it in writing or it never happened.
    Why won't they sign one did they say?
  6. John_DeereGreen

    John_DeereGreen 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,919

    No contract = no service.

    Too much on the line not to have it all in writing.
  7. elitelawnteam1

    elitelawnteam1 Senior Member
    Messages: 164

    Its one thing if this was a residential driveway, but with commercial you need to outline the level of service you must provide, and payment terms. Not having them opens you up to complications if a slip and fall occurs, and the chance of getting screwed out of payment.

    All he has to say is "I didn't say that, I said [insert lie here]" And these days the law is on his side, not yours.

    There are other lots out there to plow, I'd pass
  8. cdmckane

    cdmckane Member
    Messages: 39

    I'd never take a commercial lot, even from my sister, without a contract. Too much at stake on either side to be doing a handshake deal that won't hold up in court.
  9. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,782

    Tell him you'll do it, wait for the call when it snows and say " you didn't sign the contract,"
    They have no problem putting you behind the eight ball, this evens the playing field and puts them in a rush to adhere.
  10. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,943

    if you know him personaly & trust him, what does he say when you ask why he won't sign? Thinking there got to be a reason.

  11. Citytow

    Citytow Senior Member
    from phila
    Messages: 548

    without a signature , there is no proof of you performing any scope of work , let alone get paid .
  12. G-chop

    G-chop Junior Member
    Messages: 9

    Haha I love that response.

    Not worth the risk vs reward.
  13. seville009

    seville009 Senior Member
    from CNY
    Messages: 878

    When he pays you, hand him a signed receipt with all of the necessary disclaimers, etc.
  14. alldayrj

    alldayrj PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,108

    If they dont want a contract they can just pay in advance ;)
  15. Joe D

    Joe D Senior Member
    Messages: 605

    Not sure the contract would save you in the event of a slip and fall or even an overdue invoice. If they have no intentions of paying you, your not going to get paid contract or not. The slip and fall thing is part of the game, insurance and plenty of it are key. If your not under any contract to plow or de ice the lot then your an on call contractor and you liability towards a slip and fall would be even smaller. The property owner would assume the risk not having a snow removal contractor under agreement to plow or de ice.
  16. PGHplowguy

    PGHplowguy Senior Member
    Messages: 102

    Thank you everyone for commenting, I appreciate it.

    Joe D, you are exactly right. I spoke to a lawyer and he said the same thing. As long as there is not issue with payment then having no contract is the best case scenario. I would have less liability if any at all. Thanks.
  17. Precedence

    Precedence Senior Member
    Messages: 120

    I took on a customer once a few years ago without a contract, they did not speak or understand English very well and would only sign the quote. Well things went bad very quickly and i lost out on quite a bit of billing.

    Contract signed or no service period.

    If he is your buddy why does he have such a problem signing something?

    Things always seem fine and friendly right up until they aren't anymore and some one ends up holding the bag.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
  18. TCLA

    TCLA 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,707

    "Assuming" you get paid on time, every time...and its great money...I would say take it.

    But, you said this was a potential client. So you don't really know for certain do you?

    It's against industry standards (and against most people's common sense) to not have a contract in place before performing any work. It's just good business sense, right?

    On the other hand it can work. Bigger business than this is conducted without contracts all the time. The good news for you is you haven't imdemnified anyone from anything. And you haven't agreed to anything. There are no written and agreed upon expectations on you. There is no defined SOW or specifications. If you have been performing the service and have been getting paid for the service, and a slip and fall generates a claim to tender...all of the burden is on the plaintiff. They have to prove you were liable for something and did something wrong. Kind of hard to prove when you haven't contractually agreed to anything. At least that's the way it is in this state. Lots of precedence already set in courts here. Don't know about your state. The more words and pages to a contract can work against you...unless of course it's YOUR contract.
  19. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 9,883

    How would a contract prove you plowed or performed any work?
    Why would a signed contract be necessary to get paid?

    Thumbs Up^^^^^^
    winner, winner, chicken dinner.

    I've been plowing a dental clinic with out a contract for over 15 years, they always have paid.

    When you spell out your performance and then fall short and have a slip fall a lawyer is going to have a field day with you.
  20. starspangled6.0

    starspangled6.0 Senior Member
    Messages: 270

    The O'Reilly auto parts stores around here have a "no contract" policy as well- contracts are literally a walk around, plus a handshake. Besides some issues with O'Reilly Corporate, we've never had an issue getting paid, or with any other parts of our business relationship. Part of me prefers a handshake deal vs a contract... takes me back to the "good ol' days", even though I'm still a young pup :D