In today’s marketplace, consumers have come to expect flexibility and choice. As a result, signing fixed, long-term contracts has become a thing of the past, says Brad Sutton, owner of Eastern Turf Maintenance (ETM) in Raleigh, N.C.
“I don’t know of anyone in our area that has someone sign a contract,” Sutton says. “They can cancel at any time, and that’s pretty much become standard in our industry.”
Not that he’s complaining. According to Sutton, if you have a customer that’s unhappy with your services, then you probably don’t want them to be in a contract anyway. “If people are happy and you’re doing good job, they won’t cancel,” he says.
Sutton adds that providing top-notch service is the key to retaining customers. “We have very low cancelation rates, much lower than our national competitors,” he says.
Although ETM does not require a contract, the company does offer customers a 6 percent discount if they prepay one year in advance. “A lot of people will take discounts these days, because of the economy,” Sutton says. “If they want to get off the plan, we’ll send them their money back.”
One reason why ETM doesn’t require contracts is because the company focuses more heavily on developing long-term relationships with their customers than on simply making sales. “We’re not a high-pressure sales organization,” Sutton says. “Our sales are done by route managers and techs; I don’t have salespeople working for me. By treating lawns properly and providing good service, we avoid problems.”