I need help with carpet cleaning “contract legalese”!

drafting-a-legal-commercial-cleaning-contractQuestion:  Steve, can you give me any suggestions on writing up a contract?

Solution:  Nothing replaces professional legal advice but here are some “Service Agreement” guidelines.

Hi There!!

Steve, I think (hope?) I’m about to land my first commercial account… but I have no idea how to draft up a professional looking contract!  Do you guys have any contract ideas for me?

Searching in Omaha

Dear Searching,

The whole specific “legal advice” issue is one that SFS has shied away from! (After all, none of us are lawyers!) However, Searching, remember that a contract (or better said a “written agreement”) shouldn’t be real complicated.  In fact, a clear and simple written agreement is better for all concerned and especially for your customer.

Here are some guidelines taken straight from our SFS seminar workbook.  I hope these are of value and let me see what you come up with.


NOTE: While we’re delighted to share these contract guidelines they do NOT mean you don’t need a lawyer to check out what you come up with.  I recommend you do the “heavy lifting” by writing a first draft of the agreement yourself and then have your attorney modify it.  This approach will save you lots of money while still protecting you legally.

Commercial Contract Carpet Cleaning

A Few “Service Agreement” Guidelines

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Written contracts are essential if you’re serious about diversifying into commercial carpet cleaning. But remember, lawyers love to include clauses such as protecting your interests in the event of a nuclear war and with damages to boot! For crying out loud! Force your attorney to keep it simple. Here’s how you do it …

1. Try hard to keep the contract to one page-
If you haul out a complex legal document stuffed with small legal print it will definitely intimidate your client. There is no reason why everything both parties need can’t be on one page, perhaps with a “blueprint” defining different areas and schedules attached.

2. Keep it simple-
Don’t waste a lot of your client’s time. After all, you’re “way down the totem pole” of their priorities. But even so include in both your presentation and your contract “clearly defined expectations.” (Always use “assumptive closing.”)  How?

A. Include zoned “method/frequency maps” showing how/when you will be cleaning the facility.

B. Always have a proposed 12 month forward written schedule of your specified cleaning with exact dates.

C. Remember, it should always be “when”, never “if”.

Bonus hint: For your zoned maps to illustrate your different cleaning frequencies ask the client for copies of their fire escape maps. (By law every business must have these on file.)  Then highlight the different cleaning areas with varied highlighter colors.

3. Never, ever let it expire-
This is a common mistake. Why force your client to make a new decision every year on retaining your services? If you want to raise your prices down the road you can include a clause allowing you to do this with thirty days written notice and approval from the customer.

4. Make it transferable-
Don’t make a big deal out of it, just a small clause including the provision that all contracts (including the 30 day cancellation clause below) transfer automatically if either business sells. This protects both you and your commercial client.

5. Make the contract “easy to sign”-
Again we warn you, attorneys by nature are adversarial and normally want to “protect” you from every possible problem. You don’t need this “iron-clad job guarantee” as you will be protected in your relationship with your client by the great service you plan to provide. Go ahead, allow the client to cancel the contract at any time on thirty days notice. (You honestly have nothing to lose since if the company doesn’t want you cleaning the premises the best contract in the world will not help you keep the job anyway!!)  So point this “easy out option” to them at the time of requesting a signature.  Make it a selling point!  The lack of restrictive fine print will set their mind at ease and won’t hurt you a bit.

Of course to make tons of money in commercial work you must eventually make that wand and/or Cimex, etc. sing!

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2 thoughts on “I need help with carpet cleaning “contract legalese”!”

  1. There are a lot of online resources these days that will look over your agreements for you and ‘back it up’ for almost pennies on the dollar compared to a local one that wants a retainer and blah blah blah. Once again, Steve is right, I mean do you want to spend $ on all that legal jargon or diversify it into other areas that may give you a better return. My accountant taught me more than any lawyer has and she is much less expensive. You have GOT to be resourceful in the beginning especially and know where every penny comes and goes and IF it is serving you and the vision of your company. Otherwise you will make the same mistakes I used to, spending $10 here $45 on this software, $99 on this monthly ‘promise to give SEO results” thingy I mean you have to work smart and have a very good plan. This business is really NOT complicated, I am just getting into the carpet end and it scares the crap out of me but I can tell you confidently I can properly train my staff and refinish any hard surface and maintain it with 20 years of expertise behind me.

    Like anything else, keep it simple and he is right, there isn’t a company out there sitting around all day thinking about their janitorial or maintenance company! We are the least of their concern until they have to deal with us. I always make it my motto that when they DO have to deal with me, that I make their day, take the stress off of them because I assure them I have it under control etc…whatever the upcoming project is. I am like their problem solver….I close 98% of my proposals because I relieve them of their stress….It’s all a psychological game lol

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