View Full Version : Customer Makes Payments

06-15-2007, 10:21 PM
I just gave someone an estimate on a job and the total came out to be just under $5500 for the whole job. I agreed on payments. The customer gave me $2200, the cost of materials and then agreed to have the entire bill paid off within 4 months.

How do you guys go about this? Do I write someothing up, have the customer sign it and then get it notorized?

I have never had someone make payments so this is new to me. Thanks for the help.:)

06-15-2007, 10:28 PM
Personally, I think you are in the landscaping business, not the financing business. If you agree to this, then by all means have a contract drawn up and signed and notraizing it won't hurt. Also, I would tack on an extra charge for the delayed payments (a finance charge so to speak). Since you already gave the price, be up front and tell the customer it will cost this much extra for him/her to finance it. Otherwise, do the job over 4 months. Don't get taken advantage of. I am not suggesting throwing away the job, but tit for tat if you ask me if your willing to finance.

06-15-2007, 10:56 PM
My experience has been that payments tend to lead to collections.
So way I see things if they can't make one payment in full then they can not afford my services.
I got tired of sticking my neck out, either they can afford it, or they can't.

Because it really doesn't matter how much the amount, I've had people ask to make payments on $50 and $500 before too, so what's the difference? Either you got the money, or you don't.

And if it's more than they thought it would be, then likely they're not financially ready to make the move.

Up to you, but I'd advise against it, certainly DO draw it up if you do, I would.

06-15-2007, 11:00 PM
I did it once and never again....let's just say it's going to court and he owes me over $5,000

06-15-2007, 11:09 PM
What did you guys include in your promissary notes/contract?

If I understand correctly, it is relatively inexpensive to take someone to small claims court for issues like this. Am I wrong?


06-15-2007, 11:19 PM
:nono: Don't do that again. 1/2 up front and balance due day of completion. Thats the only way I do work and have not had an issue yet.

06-16-2007, 12:17 AM
Advise them " If you can't afford it, don't do it " I will guarantee you there will be something wrong to them with the job at the end to not pay for all of it. Your price is not a lot of money when it comes to landsacaping. Also Landscaping is a luxary not a life nor death need.

06-16-2007, 12:36 AM
Set yourself up to take credit cards. Not only does it keep you out of this situation, it will sometimes get you work over others and make it easier to upsell.

AJ Lawnscapes
06-16-2007, 01:45 AM
I agree with Uranus, at least 50% down, and balance upon completion, with a signed Contract and Terms.

Best way to look at it is like Mike33 says, it's a Luxury.

You're not a Bank, but they can go to one if they want it bad enough. How are you to determine their Credit Worthieness? You're not a bank.


06-16-2007, 04:59 AM
Definetly never again. Only ever leads to problems...

06-16-2007, 07:52 AM
Set yourself up to take credit cards. Not only does it keep you out of this situation, it will sometimes get you work over others and make it easier to upsell.

You could also recommend they request convenience checks from their card company.

06-16-2007, 10:26 AM
This happens when you break rule #1.

Rule #1 is never want (demonstrated by commitment) a job more than the person who is hiring you wants you to do it (demonstrated by commitment).

Credit is way too easy to get to have to need a landscaper or anyone else finance work for you..... .....unless your credit is no good.

Of course your client has good credit. You know that because ......

Since he has good credit, he should run down to the bank and get a loan and pay you normally.

06-16-2007, 02:24 PM
Thanks for the advice, the only reason I considered doing it this way is because I have done work for this person for the last couple of years. I never thought of asking about convenience checks.

Now I am stuck in a position where I have to take this check back to the lady and try to explain why I can't do this now:hammerhead:

06-16-2007, 06:02 PM
Run as fast as you can!

06-16-2007, 11:58 PM
I agree. If they want to make payments, they can either put it on a credit card or if the contractor doesn't accept them, they can go to the bank and get a loan.

06-17-2007, 12:10 AM
you could set up a "subscription" on paypal. She will have a payment automatically sent to you each month for x number of months.

but yes, get it in writing, anything is better than nothing.

Mike Fronczak
06-17-2007, 03:38 PM
If you want to do payments either take credit cards or join PLANET, they offer a finance program (or at least used to when it was ALCA).

06-17-2007, 10:42 PM
About 5 years ago I did a 4,000 Landscape install for what I thought was a good trust worthy client and agreed to take payments over a 3 month period for this work. I received one payment and then they stopped coming. Turns out the guy didnt water the plants... half of them died and therefore he didnt feel as if I was entitled to the rest of my money. Finally wound up having to take him to court. Lesson learned was always get paid for a large job upon completion. To many things can happen after you leave the jobsite that are out of your control. Weather...lack of watering....etc....

06-17-2007, 11:06 PM
When you get into larger jobs with contracts, payment terms, draws and such, that take months to complete, make sure you add a few clauses. One very useful addition is 'change orders'. Meaning when you get into the job, and you or the customer notice something needs to be eliminated or more work required, that they get a separate estimate and/or bill for those items. If it impacts your schedule, there should be an escape on the due date, same goes for acts of god or weather.

We did a golf driving range once. Right after hydroseeding was complete we got a week of thunderstorms. Washed the entire site out. Everything was piled up in the silt fences. The fix was estimated at $19,000. Due to our contract wording, the owners had to pay us for the original completed work before we would start the change order. They weren't happy about that, but it wasn't our fault it rained.

Almost the same situation happened on a University baseball field. The coach wanted instant grass in February but didn't have a budget for sod. So we contracted to grade and hydroseed the worst areas. Week of rain, this idiot calls, wants my crew up there IN THE RAIN driving 4X4 tractors to level mud. I refused because it wasn't in the original scope of work to work in the rain or inclement weather.

06-18-2007, 09:39 AM
Run (don't walk) away from this deal. Great advice - in many of the posts - you are not a bank, yes you could take them to small claims if they don't pay, but it still may not put any money in your pocket for a long time, bottom line is they can't afford it

06-18-2007, 10:12 AM
Have the customer go to Deere Landscapes and apply for credit, or American General. Both take a 2% cut of your gross, but then you get paid at once, and the risk is on them to collect from your customer. Or if you accept credit cards like I do, set it up so you charge a % every 2-4 weeks.

06-18-2007, 06:01 PM
What did you guys include in your promissary notes/contract?

If I understand correctly, it is relatively inexpensive to take someone to small claims court for issues like this. Am I wrong?


You are correct that it is not expensive to take a customer to small claims but are you willing to take them to court and accept 50% of wht they owe or even less. Also even if you win in small claims all you get is a judgement they don't have to pay right away and some still won't pay.