contract disagreements

I have a large contract grounds I look after for last few years but the seem to have got more stricter and complaining more each year the better i get it.Last year I had complaints a few hedges not level or growth,  But i had cut the hedge the week/fortnight before! Also same applied for grass edges and they were cut 7 days ago!

can i state a maximum number of cuts per hedge a year as I feel under pressure that everything is growing before my eyes. Im literally running around trying please everyone and say a bit of wind blows some hedge cuttings on the bed, the residents would complain i never swept up even though i Blew and tidied the area thoroughly.

Its almost got to the stage the manager tells me what to do each visit, I  said its not possible to complete the required work in the time im contracted so they agreed i spend a extra hour each visit which has helped a little but still getting my work queried when i feel the site is looking really good. Example they asked for grass to be cut in January when i could be doing bed-work etc.

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  • PRO
    Absolutely you should have a Service Level Agreemnent in place.

    As part of the above or contract it should be stating tasks and frequency.

    Look to get sign-offs and/or photos to support all work in case of queries.

    Armchair experts are our worst enemies.....
    • PRO
      Creating a simple tick list would be a simple start. Complainers often capitulate when presented with photos or written/dated evidence proving them to be busybodies
    • thks yes will do this

  • PRO

    I would say someone doesn't like you.

    If you are sure the management are on your side, use them to fight your corner, get them to sign off each job, each visit (allow time for this to happen at their expense). Then if the following day they get a complaint it will be more difficult for them to pass it on to you.

    If you think it is the management who are the instigators of the complaints.... start looking for replacement work - they will win at the end of the day.

    I agree with Gary, but putting in a SLA can be difficult in an existing contract....better to make the relationship work again

    There's my thoughts after a few glasses of red on a Friday evening :)

    • thks

  • PRO
    We do a service agreement or plan to stop this on all jobs otherwise you will be working for free......
    • Hi Busy Bee any chance of mailing me one of these Service plans, I think we need this in place as we get similar situations almost working for free, be really helpful
      • PRO
        Hi mate, we write them for each site so they are a bit bespoke but one we have for a 11 acre site where we could get "could you just..." reads,

        A weekly cut of the lawns march-November according to seasonal needs, I.e. If it's stopped growing it won't get cut in times of drought.

        An annual trim of the conifer hedging around the site in September.

        Regular trimming of the other hedging not allowing re-growth to be longer than 30cm.

        An annual clearance of leaf fall around the site carried out after the fall.

        Control of weeds and alge on all hard surfaces.

        An annual cut down of all wildflower meadows carried out in august/September with additional hire in plant chargeable to the client.

        On some agreements we even specify the amount of labour required, I.e man day per year so there are no arguments but this is rare as most people leave it to us to supply labour as needed.

        We have a line that any works outside of this service spec will be quoted for and client will need to agree to this before works go ahead.
        • I had done this as part of the contract , but will amend it with more specific details. As they now asked me to cut lawn in January which I dont feel is that necessary.

  • Ian, you are not the first and certainly won't be the last to have a problem such as this.  Have to say that hedges last year were a pain!  Those we normally cut twice, got an extra cut, however grass around our way was a slow grower Aug, Sept and Oct, so it was 'swings and roundabouts'.  

    I think in your case here, you need to have a relaxed meeting with the contract manager and explain that you have a programme of works that, although not set in stone, needs to be worked to.  We always quote that our work will be "in accordance with good gardening practice" as quite often you are asked to carry out work out of season. 

    I notice that you mentioned 'residents', so I imagine you are dealing with a Residents management committee.  These can be 'interesting' relationships at times as a 'little knowledge' is bad enough, but multiplied by a committee can make life difficult. There is also the case that quite often someone will pipe up with 'how much are we paying, my son-in-law could do it for half that?!", which gets everyone a bit twitchy!

    I'm sure you are doing a good job Ian and it's just a matter of taming them.

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