The most most frequent complaint a customer of lawn care operators and gardeners is, “They didn’t show up when they said they would!”, but that’s a topic for another column. The second most frequent complaint is, “What did they do today?”

Well, what did you do? Can you tell Mrs. Smith what you did at her place on August 18th, November 12th, or December 1st? Is she sure you were even there? Are you sure?

The simplest and most effective way to let a lawn care customer know you were there and what you did is to leave a “service call slip”. This is a form you can custom design for your particular needs or purchase at an office supply store. We provide a handy template for a lawn care service call slip at the end of this article. On the form you write down what was done. “Today we mowed and edged the lawn, trimmed the hedge in back and fixed a shrub sprinkler by the driveway. Thank you, Your Gardener.”

 

A custom form is your best choice (see the example). On it you can have your name and phone number preprinted along with a number of categories of lawn care services that occur frequently such as mowing, edging, fertilizing, and so on. Letting your customer know what time you were there can also be a nice courtesy. Make sure you make two copies, one for your records and one for the customer.

A service call slip is a very good way to keep track of where you were and what you did - especially for monthly billing purposes. A service call slip is also an excellent record to take into small claims court when a customer refuses to pay based on complaints of work not done, not enough work being done, or of being over billed. Such records tell the judge that you are practicing good business techniques by keeping accurate records and the customer is probably a hot head just trying to cheat you out of your hard earned money.

 

Service call slips can take many forms. They could be the size of a 3×5 card, half the size of a sheet of paper, larger or smaller, tall, wide, narrow, and so on. The shape your custom designed service call slip should take depends upon the information you want to have on it. Go to an office supply store and take a look at the varieties they offer. You can even get “form holders”. These are standard sized metal “boxes” with a compartment to hold blank and completed service call slips, a lid that functions as a writing surface and a clip to hold the service call slip onto the top of the box. These boxes come in a wide variety of forms and styles.

Service call slips do not have to cover every lawn care service you offer. You could have a service call slip that describes the routine lawn and garden maintenance duties you perform. You can have another that describes the chemicals you applied. Check the appropriate box, write in the quantity used, and the areas it was applied. Leave a space for special instructions or include several standard instructions which you would simply check off.

Another service call slip could be directed at irrigation. This is a very effective way to communicate exact irrigation instructions to your customer. If you simply tell them, they might forget, but if it’s written down they will probably follow your instructions very closely.

 

If you are an employer, service call slips are an effective way to keep track of your employees. As they work and move from one account to another they fill out the service call slips. These are turned in at the end of their work day.

You can even have a space for “time in” and “time out” for each customer. This gives you an opportunity to determine several things. Is the time you originally allotted for a particular customer too little or too much? Is the crew working as fast as they should or are they working too fast? These are all opportunities for you to analyze your methods of operation and make sound business decisions based on hard facts and not just guess work.

Lawn care service call slips can serve a variety of purposes. Their format can be general or specific. You will, however, find them to be a valuable management and record keeping tool. You may even find yourself asking how you ever got along without them!

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If you are an employer, service call slips are an effective way to keep track of your employees.

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If you are just getting started, where do you acquire the necessary contracts, forms, brochures, and other promotional and legal materials you need to operate your business?

If you can afford it, you can pay for the assistance of professionals to prepare these forms for you. If not, you may find them through networking with others in your field or you can use pre-made templates and forms to fashion your own.

In this column we will provide templates, forms and promotional ideas for brochures that you may use for your own business.

Important Note: These forms are provided for your use, but are not a substitute for legal advise. With any legal responsibility you should consult an attorney. The information contained in this article is for general information only. ProGardenBiz suggests that you make no decisions based solely on this article. Details will vary from state to state. We recommend that if you need legal advise that you consult an attorney.

Example Lawn Care Service Call Slip:

ProGardenBiz Form SvcCall1. Service Call Slip. This form may be used in your business, but may not be resold. Modify the form to your needs.

A custom service call slip for your lawn care business can be made with any word processing or page layout software. Just copy the features you need from the example above.