What is a contract?
Long term growth
What should your pest control agreements address?
Scope of work: Be sure to clearly identify what your service does and does not cover. Flying insects, termites, second-story wasps nests? What about carpenter ants or grubs? Often customers have un-realistic expectations about what is considered a covered pest. Make sure both you and the customer are on the same page about the difference between controlling pests and never seeing an insect.
Retreats: How often will you return for free to treat stubborn issues – once per quarter, twice? What if the customer calls you every time they see a lone ant? What if the customer has trash lying around the floor and unsealed food in the kitchen? If you set the proper expectations up front, your customer will know you are committed to solving issues while also understanding that pest control is a cooperative effort, which sometimes takes time.
Agreement length: One of the most difficult part of owning your own business is uncertainty. Uncertainty about how much work you will have doesn’t just add stress to your life – it adds cost! You need to be able to forecast how much work you will have over the next 3, 6, and 12 months in order to properly hire and train needed staff. In addition, it is EXPENSIVE to get a new customer; so retaining a loyal customer saves you real dollars. By entering into an agreement with customers, they get better service, better pricing, and guaranteed work.
Cancellation terms: What happens if things don’t work out? This will inevitably happen and when it does, there needs to be a protocol. If you have no cancellation fee, then all of the benefits we mentioned above come out of your own pocket and you really didn’t have an agreement with the customer at all. You have a responsibility to protect your company and employees. If your cancellation fee is too high, it can be unreasonable to the customer and they may not pay anything at all – or even worse, slander your good name. Find a cancellation fee that is fair to both you and the customer, knowing that this will happen from time to time for reasons both reasonable and not. What about moving out of your service area, sick family, financial troubles. Be specific.
State regulations: Don’t forget to check with your state about specific terms or language that must be present. Fines for neglecting these items can ruin your business!
While I used to struggle with pushing contracts on customers, I know realize that it is a benefit to both of us. At the end of the day, we are all trying to provide a valuable service to people who have a need -- and contracts help us to do that. Don't kill yourself doing one-time services which have low residual or recurring value -- take advantage of agreements!