View Full Version : Old bad customer calling again for estimate

12-20-2001, 07:41 PM
An ex-customer we had when we first started 2.5 years ago is calling for an estimate on her yard. We dropped her for a good reason..

It took 2 months to get paid for a one time maintenance job....

What do you do...?

I know I don't want the job, but do you call back and let them know why? or ignore the call?

Turf King
12-20-2001, 07:48 PM
Lonestar theire is a special place for no payers and slow payers in this world. Personally I woul call her back and tell her the reason, tell her if she wants youre services she will have to pay a month in advance, if she did it once she will probably do it again.

Jim Feder
12-20-2001, 07:55 PM
Yes you call and let them know that thay are on your jackass slow pay list and thank them for calling.:angel:

12-20-2001, 07:55 PM
Well you have to respond to protect your good name.
I would say that Iam so busy that I just don't have the time. But check back from time to time. If you did the job for her add 20% to the bid for the risk. You did get your money before right?
These days 20% on your money is real good.

Randy Scott
12-20-2001, 08:13 PM
Depends what mood I'm in the day I call her. Not that I'm a Jekyll and Hyde, but somedays I don't feel like dealing with some people. I guess I would have to decide wether she is worth the risk or not. Like it was said by KDJ, did she payup before though, even being a slow payer. Maybe you can factor in some interest in whatever you quote her for work.
The one thing I learned my first year in business is that slow payers are better than no payers. I don't like it or condone it, but it has happened. Being it was my first season doing this I felt I had to eat a little crow until my business and name gets a little bigger. I already went through next seasons contract and made things a little bolder in print about late payments and will start to enforce them. It's BS when people are late with payments. When I started this business a major factor to me was to make sure all my bills are kept current. So far so good. The fact that I always pay on time really urks me when others are late. Sorry to get off track here a little. It's really your calll Lonestar. Good luck with it.

lawrence stone
12-20-2001, 08:31 PM
What kind of services is she requesting?

12-20-2001, 08:50 PM
Doing commercial work I am use to waiting 2 months.

I think you should phone her regardless. If it is a one time job again I would be very clear that you expect payment upon completion. Schedule the work on a day that she will be home.

Some of our best customers are slow payers... sounds like a conflict but it's not... I just know that they are always good for the money and do not worry at all about it.

Atlantic Lawn
12-20-2001, 09:00 PM
Charge her double what you normaly charge, get 50% before you start on the job.If she asks tell her you are forced to do this because of her past credit history problems, this is your policy.If she agrees with it then you make twice as much on her job.If she tries to stiff you for the other half, fine you're already one step ahead of her.

12-20-2001, 10:05 PM
You have nothing to lose by calling her back.

Let's break this down.
If you don't call her back, she is left wondering why you didn't return her call. She may mention to a neighbor, friend, or relative how she called Lone Star Lawn Care and was never given a courtesy call back.

If you call her back, and tell her that don't want her as a customer because she doesn't pay promptly, you don't gain anything there either. In fact, you would end up just leaving a bad taste in her mouth. All you would get from that is a little satisfaction in informing her about her tardy payment.

So, in conclusion, you call her back and say, "Hi Mrs Smith, this is Lone Star Lawn Care. I'm returning your call. Unfortunately our schedule is booked, and we will be unable to service your lawn at this time. We do though appreciate your interest in our company."

You end up looking like the good guy, and you don't get stuck with a lame account.

12-20-2001, 10:36 PM
Bid it so high she will not ever want to call you back again :D

12-20-2001, 10:50 PM
If you have room in your schedule what do you have to lose? Just tell her up front she has to pay each month in advance, she may turn into one of your better accounts. Just make sure it is very clear that if the money isn't paid the first of the month to not expect you there to cut. Sometimes this is the only way they learn.
But it's still your call, you have to call.

12-20-2001, 11:35 PM
Upon first reading your post I tended to jump to conclusions and get mad and start to say, "just tell her to go to hell" but after reading some of the other posts I've decided you may be able to get some satisfaction (revenge) and make some money too. Here's the plan:

Put on your happy face and give the old gal a call. Tell her that you're extremely busy but you'll squeeze her into your schedule somehow.

Upon arrival explain to her that you remember her from 2.5 years ago and that you cannot permit her to be a slow payer again. The only way to prevent this is to accept one months payment in advance. If she balks, politely bid her good day and leave. If not, have her SIGN A CONTRACT (preferibly in blood) and then hope that she becomes a good customer. At the first sign of slow payment (or bitchyness about anything) politely cancel the contract and walk away.

Given the fact that this is the beginning of winter I imagine she just wants a final cut for the season (one time deal) just like the last time you worked for her. Remember, sign contract and payment in advance before any work is done, no excuses!

12-20-2001, 11:44 PM
I send late payers a polite letter which basically tells them to piss off. Our average seasonal contract is under 1K.

12-20-2001, 11:49 PM
First thing...She is calling again around the same time as she did our first year, so she is looking for a lawn maintenance one-time job I believe. (So contracts and advance monthly payments are out) Do I want to go through any trouble with an ex-bad customer for a one-time job?

Second thing...She might accept a high bid and still try to stiff us. Iím sorry chasing a high cost is still not worth it compared to a regular paid account.

Third thing...What does this say about our policy of late payers? If you call back 2.5 years from now we will service you then?

Fourth thing...The reason I am dreading a call back is because of the mood we have been in lately with a few late payers. Some of these late payers have become delinquent this holiday season and has put some "Hum-bug" in our moods, so a call back may end up heated (I really doubt it..we are too professional to do that..I think ) ( I see a difference in late payers and delinquent accounts. I guess some don't)

I think we will give her a call back with a 30% markup and a requirement of a check there at her door for the services rendered...therefore "no check no service"...we will see.

12-21-2001, 12:31 AM
Except a high advanced payment. Tell her you need to be payed now and that you will come back.....then come back 2 weeks after you said you would. REVENGE!!

12-21-2001, 01:10 AM
Originally posted by LoneStarLawn
I think we will give her a call back with a 30% markup and a requirement of a check there at her door for the services rendered...therefore "no check no service"...we will see.

Sounds like a good plan.

Albemarle Lawn
12-21-2001, 01:11 AM
What is the job?

If she won't pay up front, walk away. You know she is a risk, and she should have no trouble understanding why you want up-front payment.


12-21-2001, 01:22 AM
if it turns out good u have the ideal customer,one that pays before the work is started.

12-21-2001, 04:16 AM
Originally posted by LoneStarLawn

I think we will give her a call back with a 30% markup and a requirement of a check there at her door for the services rendered...therefore "no check no service"...we will see.

First thing skip the rest of what you wrote and take the last part as the best advice you have given your self.

Only revenge is the 30% intrest she will pay for the slow pay last time.

12-21-2001, 07:45 AM
Ask for the $$$ up front! If she wants a contract get 90 days up front. When you do the 90 days get the next 0 up front. If she does'nt like those terms give her a merry christmas and move on to the next person.


12-23-2001, 11:45 AM

I know you're dfinately a business professional as well as fellow LM user:D It seems to me like you're hedging a lot more than most here would. If you don't do one time service visits, then that would be your easiest out. We do no do one or 2 time mowings, and/or visits. We will occasionally take on a clea-up or other higher paying service, however it is usually for someone who has bee referred to us. As previously stated by may others here, be honest w/ the client ad let them know that slow pay was the reason for being previously terminated. If you do accept the job, tell them that you need a percentage up front as good faith w/ the balance expected upon completion. If you feel it best to throw in for extra revenue ... go ahead.

Good luck,

12-24-2001, 05:37 PM
:blob2: you made it 2.5 years with out her. why do you need her now. Her lost for not paying on time.:D

Paradise Yard Service
12-25-2001, 04:13 AM
Like you,I rarely get 'ol bad customers calling again' but I have given bids on 'one time clean-ups'.

The way I handle the ol 'come on over and give us a mow-n-trim bid' is to discern just how long they 'let er go'. Say it was 6 months - no nothing. Well, that's when I proceed to figure out how much 6 months worth of service would have cost them. Say a modest $65.00 every 2 weeks. That's $780.00 plus an additional 4% sales tax (Hawaii) for a one time job!

Yep. that method usually sends um running. Boy the look on their face. You just have to experience it to understand the feeling. If I get the job,well and good-plenty beer for me and the boys.

I had this happen to me enough times, and got fed up with this mindset of some who think we are just doing this for the exercise or that we just love nature or something. Yes, this method does 'paper train' these ones right quick. Too many good customers out there to mess around, but yes, call back as its good P.R.. Keep the pro image you work so hard to maintain.

Hope this helps.



12-25-2001, 01:58 PM
Don't ignore her call. She will tell everybody she knows which will have a negative effect on your business. It seems to me that the way to handle it is to give her a call back, explain who you are (she may not remember) and tell her you are either a.) not interested, but thanks for calling, or, b.) it will be $XXX.xx and must be paid in advance. If she declines, thank her for calling and forget about it.

Acting like a child with childish clients is never the way to go. If they acream or yell, just walk away. Anybody who does see the exchange is probably a neighbor and already knows how the person is or they won't know what happened but they'll know that you weren't the one who lost their temper. Remember: When you argue with a fool, what is the fool doing?

12-25-2001, 02:15 PM
The call back was actually not needed. She had called and talked to one of us to schedule an estimate for a basic lawn maintenance (I assume one time because of the last time). She stated that she was hardly home and agreed with us on leaving the estimate on the door. Well I did give her the estimate (the next day) with a 30% increase from our normal rate a required a prepayment. She has not called us back for the job.

In the way I did it (other ideas on this thread would have worked too) we came out in a win/win situation. The follow up with the bid shows our professionalism. If she had called and accepted the bid then we would be looking at 30% more than normal and a prepayment that says time and money in billing. Since it looks like she will not accept the bid we don't get into any mess with a late payer on a possible one-time job that we really didn't want.

12-30-2001, 10:39 AM
Either get paid up front or tell her that your booked solid and don't have the time!