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Lawn-Sharks
10-08-2008, 05:05 PM
I was looking over all my past due invoices today and was disguised about how many people are paying 2 weeks late and that i have never charged a late fee! All of my updated contracts states a 10% late fee on top of service being stopped, well i have never enforced the late fee until now.. (no more Mr Nice Guy) I reprinted all the over due invoices so i could resend them with the 10% late fee added plus a new Late fees and unpaid balances explanation sheet that i typed up.. I know a lot of us are going through this and will have mixed opinions about what i wrote, but for the ones that would like to use this sheet, you are more then welcome to.Just take my business info off of it first. Thanks

nlminc
10-08-2008, 05:31 PM
Kinda harsh. I think you should send them a $50.00 gift card just for paying you within 60 days!

Okay...seriously, I would send them out a "friendly" reminder first and in that letter, reminder tell them about the new 10% fee. Don't go into liens and courts if these people have been steady customers for a while.

brandtb1
10-08-2008, 05:33 PM
It seems a little harsh, but the electric company does not explain late fees, nor does any one else that charges them. I would just reinvoice with the late fee and maybe save the letter for the ones that are 30 days past due.

Lawn-Sharks
10-08-2008, 05:53 PM
Kinda harsh. I think you should send them a $50.00 gift card just for paying you within 60 days!

Okay...seriously, I would send them out a "friendly" reminder first and in that letter, reminder tell them about the new 10% fee. Don't go into liens and courts if these people have been steady customers for a while.you have a valid point, with commercial accounts your kinda out 30 to 45 days on payment and i should have said this was for my resi accounts. but if you reread i stated that i have never charged a late fee...at all...never, since I've been in business! with that said the conclusion you should have is that i have been a nice guy for too long and now i am fed up and taking a stand on the matter. I have always sent friendly reminders & phone calls and made minor threats to charge but never have until now and I shouldn't have to chase people down, so if it seem a little harsh then so be it. People need to "know what could happen" if the don't pay. Maybe people will take lawn care business more seriously when they are educated in what will happen if they choose to not take us seriously and pay. This isn't welfare it's a business! I am sending this to all of my resi customers that are past due with a copy of their contract and their new invoice.Thanks for the reply.

Lawn-Sharks
10-08-2008, 06:21 PM
It seems a little harsh, but the electric company does not explain late fees, nor does any one else that charges them. I would just reinvoice with the late fee and maybe save the letter for the ones that are 30 days past due.

Down here in florida the power company explains their late fees in bold print.

Doug1966
10-08-2008, 07:15 PM
with the economy being what it is - are you sure you want to put the question of whether they want to continue doing business with you in their minds?

I would stay out of sight if I were you. 2 weeks doesn't seem so bad.

nlminc
10-08-2008, 07:50 PM
I have never charged late fees either LS. I'm not saying you don't deserve to charge them. It's like what the above post says....people are cutting back and paying late because of the times right now. I have some letters I send out if someone is notorious, but for the most part all of my customers pay within 45 days. Actually, most within 10 days...you'll always have the stringers.........bankers, lawyers!!!

I've had people canceling service left and right due to their budgets being busted right now. I'll be happy to take payments 2 weeks out!

totally agree with you when you go on about people paying us last, but with lawn and landscape companies a dime a dozen, that's not going to change any time soon! I've been at this for 20 years..... some things will never change.

Lawn-Sharks
10-08-2008, 08:33 PM
Ahh... I had to go and mellow out i was pis*ed off when i typed it out and after mellowing out i am going to change it and not list the crap i wrote about the unpaid balances.. I should mention the reason why i was upset is because i have 11 accounts that are late right now,they recieved their bill little over 3weeks ago. To some people that might be a acceptiable time frame to wait for payment, but not us. I understand that i might lose some business over this and god knows i take care of every customer i have and can always use more work, but the way i see things is if i cant make a paycheck to support my family then doing this is what i will not be doing! I always let customers know that this is my business and not a large corporation with a big budget so if i dont get paid i cannot pay my bills, I let them know that i feel the affects of the economy just like they do as a matter of fact i feel it more then they do, we all do in here. So when i sit back and looking over all the account that are constantly late and the ones that are not going to pay,then things get a little harsh. I know this is all part of business but 11 account paying late is almost 25% of my customers (if they even pay) I alread have 4 that are avoiding me now.

nlminc
10-08-2008, 09:27 PM
Hang in there LS. Just remember that you are better off running the show instead of working for someone else. I'm sure these customers will come thru and pay their bills. You have to try and not take it personally. Some people pay like this..

I have a bank exc. who writes on my statement the 30th day from when he receives my statement and staples his check to it...mails it back on the 30th or even later....even though it's due in 15 days. He even took my statement with him to Alaska to mail my check from there while he was on a freakin cruise!! I mean come on...a $200.00 payment and you're going to drag it to Alaska with you? People are just f-ed up man!

TXNSLighting
10-08-2008, 11:50 PM
Well it wouldnt open for me.

Frontier-Lawn
10-09-2008, 09:03 AM
Here is what i send first if i dont get any $

miltthemower
10-09-2008, 01:23 PM
The letter was kind of harsh, but I understand where you are coming from.

bohiaa
10-14-2008, 01:59 PM
Very seldom do we CHARGE a late fee......

a simple phome call does wonders, as you know it's expensive to resend anotice to everyone who gets behind. so ask yourself.....
If I charge this late fee. it will be .25 cents.....so how much does it cost me to send a letter in the mail ? how much time does it take....


Good Luck

lawnman_scott
10-15-2008, 08:32 AM
I was looking over all my past due invoices today and was disguised about how many people are paying 2 weeks late and that i have never charged a late fee! All of my updated contracts states a 10% late fee on top of service being stopped, well i have never enforced the late fee until now.. (no more Mr Nice Guy) I reprinted all the over due invoices so i could resend them with the 10% late fee added plus a new Late fees and unpaid balances explanation sheet that i typed up.. I know a lot of us are going through this and will have mixed opinions about what i wrote, but for the ones that would like to use this sheet, you are more then welcome to.Just take my business info off of it first. ThanksI think everyone and anyone in business who doesnt get paid should take the customer to court. At least once, regaurdless of the amount owed. You then get to know the process and the law.

What is the cost of filing a lein in FL?
What is the cost to remove the lein if you lose in court?
What is the purpose if you are going to sue them anyway?
What are the laws as far as grace period (even if you have a contract)?
Is your contract legally binding?
What are the apr limits on late fees in FL?

I didnt find anything for sure, but from what I see the late fee is 18% or 1.5% per month. So you want to charge $10 on $100 when the cap is $1.50. You also want to charge it after 3 days when the law says (i am pretty sure but not posative) you have to wait 10 days.

Dont make business decisions when your pizzed off at someone, it never works out good.

Lawn-Sharks
10-15-2008, 09:02 AM
I think everyone and anyone in business who doesnt get paid should take the customer to court. At least once, regaurdless of the amount owed. You then get to know the process and the law.

What is the cost of filing a lein in FL?
What is the cost to remove the lein if you lose in court?
What is the purpose if you are going to sue them anyway?
What are the laws as far as grace period (even if you have a contract)?
Is your contract legally binding?
What are the apr limits on late fees in FL?

I didnt find anything for sure, but from what I see the late fee is 18% or 1.5% per month. So you want to charge $10 on $100 when the cap is $1.50. You also want to charge it after 3 days when the law says (i am pretty sure but not posative) you have to wait 10 days.

Dont make business decisions when your pizzed off at someone, it never works out good.


When a customer signs my contract for work and whatever it states then thats what they agree to, so if it says 10% after 3 days then thats what it will be....Their bill is submitted to them by the 15th of the month and that gives them 15days + 3 days extra to pay. I think this is plenty enough time to pay!! They read my contract, they signed it, it's their responsibility to pay it on time..End of story!! That's how it works. Not everyone is going to agree with how each of us run our business, but this is how i run mine and just because i typed up a sheet when I'm pissed off at all of my late customers, doesn't mean I'm sending it out to everyone or even sending that first copy out!! Yes i was pissed when i wrote it, but then i posted it for everyone to see then i went and cooled down and read some post and reread what i wrote and agreed with everyone that it was harsh and didn't not even print it out or sent it out! As far as the rest of your questions Yes i do agree that everyone should at some point sue or place a lien on someones property, so they can get the experience. As for me i have never had to go to court yet or file a lien, but what i have learned on LS is that if you have a signed contract for work then try to scare people into thinking your going to ruin their credit or file a lien or sue them to get the money that is owed to you with out having to spend anymore of your own. That's what that letter was all about...

IN2MOWN
10-15-2008, 09:49 AM
You better check with your state to see if you can even charge late fees.

My customers have billing cycle to billing cycle to pay their invoice, if its not paid then they are billed a "finance charge" of $7.00 or 10%, whichever is greater. 99% of my customers pay within 7-14 days of recieving their invoice.

Lawn-Sharks
10-15-2008, 12:08 PM
You better check with your state to see if you can even charge late fees.

My customers have billing cycle to billing cycle to pay their invoice, if its not paid then they are billed a "finance charge" of $7.00 or 10%, whichever is greater. 99% of my customers pay within 7-14 days of recieving their invoice.


I have been searching the Internet to find a phone number or something related to that might help answer this question, but i have had no luck. I called a paralegal friend of mine that i have used for everything court related issue i have ever had and asked her "Do you know what an allowable amount to charge for a late fee for past due lawn service bill?" She said she was unsure of a max amount was, but that she would dig up an answer for me, and let me know. I explained to her that i wrote this late fee into my contracts for the purpose of only enforcing it when i absolutely had to. She then asked "well how much is the late fee?" I said 10%, she laughed and asked why are you calling me? She went on to say Michael! if your contract states a 10% late fee after x-day past due and they signed it, then they are liable for all amount & late fee's due to you! And that if it went to court over this that no judge would side with the customer on this amount for a signed contract..She said now if you were trying to charge 20-30% then yes i would have to agree that might be a little high but 10%, that's not an unfair amount...Considering that the customer read it and agreed to it the moment they signed your contract.

lawnman_scott
10-15-2008, 04:02 PM
I have been searching the Internet to find a phone number or something related to that might help answer this question, but i have had no luck. I called a paralegal friend of mine that i have used for everything court related issue i have ever had and asked her "Do you know what an allowable amount to charge for a late fee for past due lawn service bill?" She said she was unsure of a max amount was, but that she would dig up an answer for me, and let me know. I explained to her that i wrote this late fee into my contracts for the purpose of only enforcing it when i absolutely had to. She then asked "well how much is the late fee?" I said 10%, she laughed and asked why are you calling me? She went on to say Michael! if your contract states a 10% late fee after x-day past due and they signed it, then they are liable for all amount & late fee's due to you! And that if it went to court over this that no judge would side with the customer on this amount for a signed contract..She said now if you were trying to charge 20-30% then yes i would have to agree that might be a little high but 10%, that's not an unfair amount...Considering that the customer read it and agreed to it the moment they signed your contract.I think you should have your friend talk to her boss. If the max is 1.5% a month and you have them sign a contract saying 10% then they just signed a contract that violates the law. Guess what your contract is good for? Now most small claims court judges use common sence, so they will probably give you the judjement on the amount owed but nothing for late fees. Personally I would leave all the lein stuff off, its not nessesary. If they dont pay take them to court. Unless your doing high dollar installs and are afraid they will sell quick. I am not trying to be a jerk, just giving good advice. You also dont need a contract to win. I only have contracts on commercial and never had to go to court. I have sucessfully sued 5 or 6 residentials with no contract. A time sheet, cell phone records, and past history of payment is all I have ever had and I am undefeated in small claims court.

I would charge the late fee. Its probably 1.5% per month. IF they dont pay I would send a certified letter requesting payment. Then would file in small claims court. You wont lose. I am no lawyer and it was never in question. Its odd. Its almost like they have to prove themselves innocent, almost like guilty until proven innocent. Just keep good records.

But if you do the late fee, the good ones will pay it and understand, and probably appologize. The few bad apples will cancel and complain to you that late fees is the reason, as little sence as that makes.

topsites
10-16-2008, 07:20 PM
Late payments are frustrating but with the state of the economy this is exactly
the time when I don't worry my customers to tears over it.

Now I don't tell them they don't have to pay, I never say it's all right,
but I don't track it and if someone is late I may not know it, either way
I don't worry about this mess a whole lot at all.

Just let it go, forget about it, ignorance is bliss.

Down here in florida the power company explains their late fees in bold print.

Up here in Virginia the power company is also the sole electricity provider,
I don't have to like what they do but my options are a wee bit limited.

sweetz
11-01-2008, 05:14 PM
Up here in Virginia the power company is also the sole electricity provider,
I don't have to like what they do but my options are a wee bit limited.

Ummmmmmmm, it's the the same down here in FL.

I don't charge a late fee, I just stop my services on their account. That works 99% of the time.

HOOLIE
11-01-2008, 05:29 PM
Jump on the credit card bandwagon people. This is not directed at anybody in this thread, but I'm always amused how guys won't pay a small percentage to get their money on time. They'd much rather be out thousands of bucks each month, and spending all their time writing letters to customers that probably will have no effect. But to each his own.

CALandscapes
11-01-2008, 05:45 PM
I would suggest having your attorney review that letter before you start sending it out.

Also, you may want to double check some of your grammar and capitalization. Additionally, I think that you get a bit wordy and explain yourself and the situation more than necessary. Sometimes less is more, if you get my drift.

IN2MOWN
11-01-2008, 05:46 PM
Jump on the credit card bandwagon people. This is not directed at anybody in this thread, but I'm always amused how guys won't pay a small percentage to get their money on time. They'd much rather be out thousands of bucks each month, and spending all their time writing letters to customers that probably will have no effect. But to each his own.

ive been thinking about takng cards or using paypal.

What kind of percentage are we looking at?

sweetz
11-01-2008, 06:09 PM
ive been thinking about takng cards or using paypal.

What kind of percentage are we looking at?

Can't remember the % off the top of my head but I use PayPal. In my opinion it's worth in.

HOOLIE
11-02-2008, 01:00 AM
ive been thinking about takng cards or using paypal.

What kind of percentage are we looking at?

I'm at 2.1% or so plus I believe a 10 or 15 cent fee per transaction. Where they get me is with the lease for the machine, which is $31 a month. When I signed up I had an option to buy it for something like $1200 or $1500. I've been meaning to talk to the bank manager and see if they can do me something better than that now since I've used them for 2 seasons.

Overall the rates are much better than when I started in 2002. The sales rep (my bank subcontracts the CC processing out) told me basically once Mickey Dee's started taking cards, it sort of legitimized it.

NewHorizon's Land
11-02-2008, 07:18 AM
Two years ago I had a good customer whose wife lost her job (embezelling money) and just wouldnt pay. So late fees were imposed and service stopped. He then sent me a letter stating he no longer needed my services. Well good cuz I was tired of working and not getting paid.

John Zaprala
11-04-2008, 01:56 AM
I think the original letter is a little harsh and agree the second needs to be proof-read again, but is definately more friendly. I guess the whole idea of late fees is essential in our business. The real way to address this in my opinion is to have these terms on your contract to begin with. I know the season is ending, but snow contracts whatever. There should be terms on the contract that outline the payment schedule. (i.e. 1/3 deposit, 1/3 on commencement, balance upon completion or within 15 days of invoice). THEN it should be noted right there on the contract there will be a late fee or percentage after a reasonable amount of time IF you go over this amount of grace time services will be stopped and we reserve the right to halt service on that contract. I think it is easier to collect on payments when they know up front and not informed after the fact. Makes you seem like you're hurt for cash. Even if you are, you don't want to let the customer know that or they may try to squeeze on price when negotiating the next contract.